23 February 2009

Green Cay History

Green Cay Nature Center after a summer rain.

This blog covers all my birding trips and camping adventures but the meat of the blog encompasses daily life at Green Cay. So for those of you who haven't had the privilege to come visit my little park I thought I'd give you some background information. Let's start at the beginning which would be the Winsberg's farm. Ted and Trudy Winsberg are farmers here in Palm Beach County. Their Native Green Cay Farm, among other things, is known for award winning bell peppers. So in the early 2000's the Winsberg's decided to do their part and give back to the environment by selling 150 acres of land to Palm Beach County in order for a re-created wetland to be built. In 2003 the first 100 acres began to be developed into a wetland.

The beginning of construction 2003.

Construction lasted until January 2005. At that point the 1.5 miles of boardwalk was built, the nature center was constructed, and the 68 native species of plants had been planted. Now it was time to open the doors and wait for the animals to arrive. Of course they did stock the wetland with a few 1000 fingerling hatchlings of sunfish, catfish, and mosquito fish. And maybe some Pig Frogs were added as well to give the wetlands a boost start but most of our animals have arrived by their own means. It helps that two canals run parallel to the park.

Aerial taken on January 2005.

On February 2005 the park gates opened and we haven't looked back since. I came to work at Green Cay in January of 2007. I really wish I had seen the first years but even in the last two years this place has really taken off. The plants are flourishing and the animals sightings are increasing. When I first started we had only about a dozen nesting bird species and now the park boasts 22 nesting species including Limpkins and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks. Our bird list is hovering at the 140 species mark.

The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department Plant.

The purpose of Green Cay is primarily for the final cleaning of the treated wastewater that is pumped in daily. The plants remove the nutrients from the water and the water is placed back into the natural cycle, recharging the groundwater and evaporating upwards to come back as rainfall elsewhere. Of course by opening the wetland up for the general public our uses are many. We had over 38,000 visitors last month alone and they came here for varied reasons including, school programs, photography, exercise, and volunteering. It really is a pleasure to work for such a wonderful cause and I feel rewarded that I get paid to teach kids, count birds, and work with our marvelous volunteers.

1 comment:

Nate said...

I visited Green Cay in December of 2006 while visiting my wife's family. The vegetation was still sparse compared to Wakodahatchee but I gt the best looks I'd ever had of Sora and Purple Gallinule while walking around the boardwalk, plus there was an Eared Grebe around that I imagine is a pretty good bird for Florida.

What a cool place to work!